Street sweepers in the Benin metropolis have staged another protest over the alleged non-payment of their outstanding allowances by the Edo State Government.
The protesters claimed that they were owed allowances spanning six months.
The sweepers had in December, 2017, protested the non-payment of their eight-month allowance.
But Governor Godwin Obaseki said that the government was not indebted to them as they are not government employees.
Obaseki, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, explained that the sweepers were employed by contractors hired by the state government.
But the protesters, who marched through the King’s Square to the Nigeria Union of Journalists secretariat in Benin on Tuesday, insisted that they were employed by the government.
One of them, Okoyamu Mama, said, “I work at the Aduwawa area. We are being owed for six months. It is the state government that pays us not the contractor; it promised to pay us but for the past six
months, it kept asking us to be patient.
“We were at the Government House last week but they begged us. We do not want our money to keep piling up. Let them pay us now. We need our money.”
Another protester, Mary Omoregie, said that the sweepers could no longer bear hardship as they were often exposed to hazards on the job.
Omorogie noted, “I work on New Lagos road. Since December, we have not received our salaries. Let the government please pay us.
“We are at risk. Armed robbers usually snatch our mobile phones; one of us was involved in an accident while working. We are suffering.”
Also speaking, one of the sweepers, Phoebe Aminu, lamented that some of them had become debtors, in addition to their parental responsibilities as widows and some single mothers.
Aminu said, “I sweep at the Uselu area, close to Olua Primay School. Since October, 2017, we have not been paid. Some of us are single mothers.
“We took up the job out of necessity but after working, we cannot provide food or buy books for our children. I have become a debtor because I owe many people. That is why we have come out today to cry to the governor to come to our aid, so that our salaries will be paid.”
But reacting, the governor said, “The sweepers are employed by contractors; there is no direct business relationship or employer-employee relationship between the government and the people who sweep the streets.
“If the sweepers have not been paid, it is between them and the people who contracted them.”